Have you ever found yourself looking up some information online, and stumbling upon a company website that just seems kind of… Empty?
All the building blocks are there, the visual design is stunning, but you cannot find the information you need to save your life. It seems like their blog was last updated in 2002, and there is no contact information anywhere.
It is not uncommon for companies to have websites exactly like this, and that’s a problem. While the visual aspects of website design are important, if you cannot answer the questions your potential customers are asking, they won’t be sticking around for long.
The best way to prevent that from happening? Building a content driven website.
This article will tell you what a content driven website actually is and why you should go for it, as well as what challenges to expect, and what’s involved in maintaining one.
What is a content driven website?
We like to compare a content driven website to a bookcase, or a display of shelves.
The overall style and structure of the shelves remain fairly consistent. However, the details can vary depending on the site you are visiting.
The content on the shelves can be authored by one person, or many, but is usually grouped by broad headings or categories and can come and go as required. In a well-designed content driven website, all navigation menus and groupings are automatically updated when new content is added. Older material is archived deeper into the site (but almost never deleted).
Why choose a content driven website?
There are three major “ingredients” of a content driven website:
- Visual layout, or web design
- Web development
- Content management
Most agencies and businesses focus the bulk of their attention on the visual aspects of the website and the supporting code. As a result, content, the most important element, becomes an afterthought.
This practice needs to end, now.
While visual imagery and design can be very pleasing to the eye, without a focused message, websites become akin to sound and fury, signifying nothing and accomplishing nothing.
Think of it this way: if visual design is the sizzle, content is the steak – and what is it that you go to a restaurant for, after all?
Content driven website design will always, always trump design that’s driven purely by aesthetics – and for good reason.
Why content driven website design matters
Think about the last company website you visited, and ask yourself – what were you looking for? Your answer will almost certainly be something along the lines of “an answer to a question I had”.
Users visit websites to find content and information, not just presentation. And if they can’t find what they are looking for? They won’t stick around and try to dig that information up. They will simply go and search for it information elsewhere.
Here are a few of the most popular website design sins we see on a daily basis. If your website:
- Takes too long to load (due to extra code or visuals)
- Tries to make you watch a video introduction
- Tries to force you to register before you can view the content
- Bombards you with popups
- Keep in mind that most people have these blocked, so, if you include important information within pop-ups, it is unlikely to reach your audience.
- Hides the information somewhere way down the page
- Has outdated information
You can be almost certain that your website visitor will go looking for answers somewhere else. If you are the owner of this website, you just lost a potential customer – and because of something that could have been easily prevented.
The challenges of content-driven websites
Before we pronounce creating content driven websites the ultimate goal of web design, it’s important to talk about the challenges involved in maintaining them.
When you are deciding to go down this route, you are ultimately deciding that content is king, and will drive all of your future design and development decisions.
However, do you know how you are actually going to create that content? Are you prepared for the amount of work involved?
The web is littered with beautifully designed websites that sport a big “Under Construction” sign as their main content. There is no point in putting in the effort to build a website that supports many different types of content, only to end up in this situation.
Keeping your information up to date is another potential issue. If your top articles are still talking about data from the early 2000s, you’ve got a problem. You will need to budget some time and resources for upkeep and maintenance of your website to avoid this problem.
These are legitimate challenges all content driven website owners face. However, with the right preparation and setup from the get-go, maintaining a content-driven website is not as hard as it may seem.
Maintaining a content driven website
The core of any content driven website is it’s CMS (Content Management System).
A good content management system allows all of your content to be created, edited and managed through a simple web-based interface. You can also assign access privileges to a range of users to control access to sensitive parts of the system.
If it sounds too complicated to keep up with, don’t worry: the bulk of the work happens at the beginning of setting up your CMS. Once you’ve got that figured out, routine maintenance can often be automated.
Advantages of content driven websites
Now, onto the good stuff. If you do choose to make your website content-driven, you can look forward to:
- Higher search engine result rankings
- More website visitors and blog readers
- Boosting social media engagement
- Increasing client acquisition rate
- Growing brand awareness
- Building more trust and loyalty with your audience
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Of course, quality of information matters as well, especially for SEO purposes. Low-quality blogs, articles and web pages won’t get you noticed by Google, but with a little bit of effort (and a good writer on your side), you will be able to reap the benefits of your content driven website in no time.
In this article, you’ve learned what content driven websites are and why they are a great choice for most businesses, as well as what challenges are involved in creating and maintaining them.
If you are interested in learning more about turning your own website into a content-driven one, get a Free Assessment on your Digital Marketing here.